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Ebizo Ichikawa as Takemura Sadanoshin

Ebizo Ichikawa as Takemura Sadanoshin

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This is one of Sharaku’s masterpieces illustrating a role that appears “KoiNyobo Somewake Tadune: played by Kawarasaki-za Theather in May of 1794 (Kansei 6). Ebizo’s facial expression is very impressive as if he was alive with the eyes under slanted eyebrow. His voice would come out from the tightly pulled lips. The sharply curved facial line depicts the great dignity of art and appearance of Ebizo who was acclaimed as the highest rank of the actor at the era. Sharaku’s spirit of the art that captures the reality of the object is crystallized in this work. Ebizo Ichikawa renamed himself from Danjyuro Ichikawa V in 1791 (Kansei 3). He is a son of Danjyuro IV, took over the name from Koshiro Matsumoto to Danjyuro V in November of 1770 (Meiwa 7). He was written: “Would like to have him a good medicine to make him build round” in the review. Sharaku depicts the appearance very realistically. Ebizo was the leading figure of Edo kabuki during Tenmei-Kansei period (1771-1801). His style is great and only seeks the art of kyogen. He was good at writing and read haiku as his life work after retirement in Hogoan. After retirement, he moved to Mukojima and renamed Shichisaemon Naritaya. He again appeared on the stage four time for enthusiastically requests. He died in October of 1806 (Bunka 3) at the age of 66.

 

 

Sharaku Toshusai(birth and death dates unknown)

Birth and death dates unknown.

In 1794 (Kansei 6), Sharaku came into sudden prominence, produced more than 140 ukiyo-e paintings during the mere ten months of his activity as an ukiyo-e painter, and then disappeared forever. For his debut work, he used the large, o-ban printing size, and expensive biotitic background printing, which was unusual. Juzaburo Tsutaya, a publisher, enthusiastically promoted Sharaku after Utamaro had left him. Meanwhile, the printing size was getting smaller. One of the major reasons for this was that Sharaku’s way of drawing actors as they were, regardless of their popularity, was not accepted by people of the era. However, each of his portraits is full of energetic impression and gives a positive impact. Because of this, he also received high acclaim from abroad.

 

Selections of Sharaku Toshusai

Sharaku Toshusai(birth and death dates unknown)

One of the reasons why Sharaku’s works are precious is that so few exist. Unfortunately, his art was recognized abroad before it gained popularity in Japan. While the Japanese were blind to his talent, many of the works ended up abroad and were praised. Some of the works were brought back to Japan as part of the Matsukata Collection in 1943 (Showa 18), which increased the number of his popular works in Japan. These forty works were reissued from the collection. Each of them represents one of Sharaku’s great masterpieces.

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